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  1. #1
    Chieftain
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    Elusive drivetrain noise...please help!

    About a month ago I posted here about my clicking shimano 105 bottom bracket....well, the bb's been replaced and the noise has returned. (And it is NOT my seatpost). I have only about 500-600 miles on the bike. Here's the deal:

    With every left pedal stroke, I'm getting two clicks through the bottom of the stroke, the first occurs at the point where the crank arm is being stressed the most, the second occurs when I'm just about to begin the upstroke, when the pressure is relieved. It is only heard when I'm applying a decent amount of pressure (accelerating and climbing). The noise started out happening only once in a while, but before long, was there with every stroke, and now I can make it happen on demand by pedaling medium-hard. I had my 105 bb removed & greased (it was dry), which took care of the noise for about 30 miles, then it returned. Same thing: regreased bb, noise gone for 30 miles. Bike shop assumes it's the bottom bracket, replaces with an ultegra bb - noise gone...for 30-50 miles. Regrease new bb, noise gone for 30 miles.

    At this point, my bike shop is getting sick of dealing with it and is basically hinting that I just dropped well over a $1000 on a lemon and they're not going to do much else but send the bike to Felt and have them troubleshoot (makes no sense, as the problem seems to be with shimano's components), but I may just be stuck with a noisy bike and that's that.

    I really think that the noise is coming from the crank itself, at the interface with the left crank arm; this is what I told the bike shop on my first trip in over a month ago, and it's what I told them again today. They still seem to be uninterested in checking that out as a source of the noise, I suspect just because they're lazy sonso*****es and don't want to deal with a warranty issue. Does anyone here have any other ideas on what this could be? Should I just off the bike on craigslist and take a severe loss? I'm pretty distraught over the matter, being that I can't afford any more time off my bike! PLEASE HELP!!!!!!

  2. #2
    META Severian's Avatar
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    IF: it is the left crank arm itself the worst case scenario is that the crank arm is cracked. Being that removing the BB and regreasing it makes the noise go away for 30 miles my guess is that this is not the case... .yet..

    When you remove your crank arm is there, has there ever been, or do you continue to apply grease to the BB spindle? If there is grease use some strong degreaser on the crank arm AND the spindle contact surface and... here's the really important part: TORQUE YOUR CRANK ARM TO 350 IN-LBS when you put it back on. Don't guess, use a torque wrench. And to do a thorough job, grease the threads on your crank bolt.

    IF after you do that the noise comes back; my guess would be that you might have a wandering crank arm. Bad side is, you've removed it so often during the course of your travails that the inner diameter of the crank arm where it meets the BB spindle is probably deformed... good news; unless you've got a really expensive crank set you probably won't have to pay more than 20 bux for a new left arm. Follow the directions in paragraph two for proper installation of your new crank arm.

    OR IF: it is not the crank arm I'd make absolutely sure that your frame isn't cracked around the BB shell, check every weld. But, I'm not convinced that this is the case. The noise wouldn't have gone away for 30 miles and then come back, it would still have been there.


    a suggestion about the shop. You may have people here tell you to go to a new shop. That may be an option. But, I'd bet that the wrenches at the shop you've been going to are as frustrated as you seem to be. Since they haven't solved the problem and they figure you're pissed at them they're being, naturally, stubborn. IF you can say to them "I dig that you guys are frustrated with me and my bike having a creak that neither of us can solve. I want YOU to solve this problem because I like bringing my bike to this shop and giving you guys business. We know it's not the BB, what about making sure that the frame's not bad or the crank?" If you've already taken this step, which puts them in the position of (hopefully) feeling like you don't hate them, and they still don't bite. Go to another shop.

    At a guess, Felt won't help. They'll tell you that an intermittent noise isn't frame related and isn't covered by warrantee.
    Last edited by Severian; 03-28-08 at 08:00 PM. Reason: Wrong Value

  3. #3
    Cycling Skier songfta's Avatar
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    I had a similar noise with my SRAM Rival crankset, and I took every measure in the book to try and get rid of it.

    And you know what the problem was? A loose cassette (i.e. not the crank or BB)! The lockring on the cassette had loosened slightly, allowing a wee bit of play, and the sound was amplified through the bottom bracket area. Once the lockring was tightenened, the whole thing was silenced and all is well.

    So get creative and look everywhere in the drivetrain setup - you never know what the real culprit might be.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member Ray Dockrey's Avatar
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    I know it goes away when they replaced the BB but have you tried another set of pedals to see if they are causing your issues? Make sure you grease the threads when you do or just try removing and reinstalling just the pedals. If you are wearing clipless pedals it could be in the cleats. My left cleat does this. A little dry lube on the cleats will quiet them down.

  5. #5
    Chieftain
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Dockrey View Post
    I know it goes away when they replaced the BB but have you tried another set of pedals to see if they are causing your issues? Make sure you grease the threads when you do or just try removing and reinstalling just the pedals. If you are wearing clipless pedals it could be in the cleats. My left cleat does this. A little dry lube on the cleats will quiet them down.
    The pedals are actually the first thing we checked, I forgot to mention that. I've swapped my left & right cleats as well and that didn't solve the problem.

    Also: about the cassette possibility - I had a bad freehub body before this problem arose, fixed on warranty and noise has started since then...coincidence or culprit? The fact that the problem is temporarily solved when they remove and re-torque the crank, seems to point to the crank arm to me, but I'm no great wrench. The problem seems to come back at least as bad, if not worse each time...wandering crank arm...? Sounds pretty logical. I don't understand why the guy I've been dealing with most doesn't seem to think that would do it?

    I hope that's the issue - cheap fix; more leverage for my desired upgrade to SL or K-Force cranks...

  6. #6
    Senior Member Ray Dockrey's Avatar
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    Is this the outboard bearing style of bottom bracket? If it is I am wondering if the bottom bracket needs to be faced. If the bearings don't sit flat against the face this would cause the issue and also be why it keeps coming back even with a new bottom bracket.

  7. #7
    Senior Member BCRider's Avatar
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    What sort of crank arm mount is it? I had this same clicking trouble with an Octalink crank arm set. Turned out there was a tiny chip of metal jammed into one of the splines that would not let the crank arm seat 100%. It was REALLY small too and jammed up in the rounded end of one of the slots. Missed it the first time I had the arm off and cleaned. If it's an Octalink pull the crank and clean and check the splines in both the BB and crank meticulously. Almost ANYTHING will make it not seat and you will have a pedal click.

    You say you swapped the pedals and the click stayed on the one side then it's likely not those. But pedal bearings working loose is another popular source of clicking that is linked to the pedalling cadence.
    Model airplanes are cool too!.....

  8. #8
    Chieftain
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ray Dockrey View Post
    Is this the outboard bearing style of bottom bracket? If it is I am wondering if the bottom bracket needs to be faced. If the bearings don't sit flat against the face this would cause the issue and also be why it keeps coming back even with a new bottom bracket.
    It's an external bb, what does facing a bb entail?

  9. #9
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    try putting teflon tape on the bottom bracket thread.the thread on the frame may be a bit worn and the teflon tape will prevent metal to metal rub.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Ray Dockrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by humboldt'sroads View Post
    It's an external bb, what does facing a bb entail?
    Look here. Looks like a pretty good explanation with pics. Most frames aren't faced from the factory and this very well could be your issue. You can do a search here on these boards for more info.

    http://www.gravity-slaves.co.uk/?a=411
    Last edited by Ray Dockrey; 03-28-08 at 12:10 PM.

  11. #11
    my brain hurts! fosmith's Avatar
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    i've dealt with mystery noises many times. start with easy stuff...no kidding. make sure the QR's are tight sometimes it's the locknut creaking against the frame...try greasing both f&r dropouts. could also be the headset. the frame is a great soundboard for little noises like that

  12. #12
    Cycling Skier songfta's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by humboldt'sroads View Post
    Also: about the cassette possibility - I had a bad freehub body before this problem arose, fixed on warranty and noise has started since then...coincidence or culprit? The fact that the problem is temporarily solved when they remove and re-torque the crank, seems to point to the crank arm to me, but I'm no great wrench. The problem seems to come back at least as bad, if not worse each time...wandering crank arm...? Sounds pretty logical. I don't understand why the guy I've been dealing with most doesn't seem to think that would do it?
    Mine would quiet down with a re-tightening of the left crank arm, then get noisy again after 10-15 miles of riding. Only after I did a bit of reading and discussed the problem with some mechanically-inclined friends did I try the cassette fix.

    The detail of my cassette fix (it's Campagnolo splined, FYI):

    1. Removed lockring and cogs.
    2. Lightly greased splines on the hub with Park grease.
    3. Cleaned cogs and screw threads on hub and lockring.
    4. Reinstalled cogs.
    5. Lightly coated lockring with Shimano anti-seize grease and tightened to spec with torque wrench.

    Voila! No more noise!

    Campag cassettes tend to be a bit more picky and noisy if not lubed on the splines, from my experience. Never had the same probs on my Shimano setups.

    Hope this helps!
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  13. #13
    Pwnerer Wordbiker's Avatar
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    I had one customer come in with the exact same mystery sound. After tearing down and replacing the BB, checking pedals, etc...it turned out to be a creaking seat rail. Bear in mind that it was he who insisted it was a BB issue.
    Quote Originally Posted by ahsposo View Post
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  14. #14
    Old Fogy
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    Crank bolt torque

    Yikes! 350 inch pounds is plenty tight! 350 foot pounds is more than any bike fastener will take.

  15. #15
    META Severian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by waldowales View Post
    Yikes! 350 inch pounds is plenty tight! 350 foot pounds is more than any bike fastener will take.

    CRAP! That's what I get for posting drunk...

    editing!!!

  16. #16
    Senior Member
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    It really probably isnt the BB. The BB and cranks get blamed for anything. Change one thing at a time until you find it

    1) Really tighten saddle / seatpost
    2) Tighten down both QR
    3) Swap out both wheels
    4) Change out the chain
    ........

    You will get it. I just got done with a pesky creak similar to yours. It just takes a little patience. Bike frames are efficient sound radiators, so you really cant hear where it is coming from.

  17. #17
    Chieftain
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    Quote Originally Posted by songfta View Post
    Mine would quiet down with a re-tightening of the left crank arm, then get noisy again after 10-15 miles of riding. Only after I did a bit of reading and discussed the problem with some mechanically-inclined friends did I try the cassette fix.

    The detail of my cassette fix (it's Campagnolo splined, FYI):

    1. Removed lockring and cogs.
    2. Lightly greased splines on the hub with Park grease.
    3. Cleaned cogs and screw threads on hub and lockring.
    4. Reinstalled cogs.
    5. Lightly coated lockring with Shimano anti-seize grease and tightened to spec with torque wrench.

    Voila! No more noise!

    Campag cassettes tend to be a bit more picky and noisy if not lubed on the splines, from my experience. Never had the same probs on my Shimano setups.

    Hope this helps!

    I'll try swapping out my rear wheel with my buddy's, who's also got a 105 10sp cassette - that should be a quick indicator. I know it's not either QR, or anything to do with the seat (noise present when standing), both of those have been ruled out. Also not a pedal problem (I've put another pedal on).

    I can feel the "click" through the left crank arm if I'm to do a track stand with the brakes held and torque the pedal, but still can't tell where its coming from.

  18. #18
    purity of essence scotch's Avatar
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    fwiw, i had an annoying "creaking" noise coming from what i swore was my BB, on every pedal stroke out of the saddle. after a year of unpacking, cleaning, lubing, tightening, replacing, etc etc, the thing was still there. i drove me nuts. finally, i happend to replace my wheel set and the noise went away. what it turned out to be was my rear hub. trying your buddy's wheels is worth a shot.

  19. #19
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    Here is a trick that has worked for me in the past. You need an indoor trainer, buddie and a paper tube from a roll of paper towels. Ride the bike on the trainer and hopefully you will duplicate the sound. Have the buddie use the towel tube to listen as to where the sound is really coming from. You may be very surprised to the real source of the noise. Think of the can and string thing you did in grade school science class.

    If you get the sound when the bike is on the a stand then you don't need the buddie. Good luck.

  20. #20
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    I go through this at least once a season on a customers bike. It's tough because as hard as it is for you to determine the sound, it's almost as hard for us. The steps you've mentioned are the same ones I would take. Pedals, un-lubed seat tubes, a SLIGHTLY loose headset, loose QR's and a range of other things have been causes. One time I helped a customer who who was having this issue and we went trough the ENTIRE bike. Nothing. Then one day, we pulled off his bottle cage and the was the smallest crack around one of the bosses. Just to check, some JB Weld was applied, and the noise was gone. The frame was warrantied, and everyone was happy.

    Sometimes things like this can be frustrating for everyone involved. Just try to be nice about it.

  21. #21
    Senior Member
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    Why dont you fasten a MP3 player near the cranks...go for a ride and record the noise.
    So others can hear the noise

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